A privately funded monorail running between John Wayne Airport and two office buildings being planned by the McDonnell Douglas Realty Co. near the edge of the airport in Irvine is an innovative approach to moving people and reducing traffic. It came a step closer to reality Tuesday when the County Board of Supervisors gave its approval to the company’s proposed half-mile rail line.
The estimated $3.5-million monorail system could one day even be expanded to a 5-mile loop serving the Irvine business parks and hotels near the airport. It could even be linked to future loops, such as one at the South Coast Plaza residential, retail and commercial area in nearby Costa Mesa.
But what should not be lost in the glamour of a private monorail system is another major innovation that is also part of the twin towers plan still being developed and negotiated with Irvine planning officials. It proposes two 23-story buildings at MacArthur Boulevard and Campus Drive that will combine business offices and living space in one of the towers.
Like the monorail, that is not a new concept. There are several high-rise towers that mix residential, office and commercial space in such urban areas as New York, San Francisco and Chicago. But there are none in Orange County, where transportation officials are searching for ways to reduce the heavy traffic and near-gridlock that chokes the county during rush hours that now seem to last most of the day.
One way to reduce commuting would be for cities to allow--and encourage--the kind of mixed residential use that McDonnell Douglas envisions in its project. It is no cure-all, but it is one more fresh approach that can, along with other needed changes, help ease the growing traffic crunch.